August 2020 Update: COVID-19 – Work and Income support for employers to pay wages

We outline ways Work and Income is providing financial support to help employers to pay your wages during COVID-19 and its resurgence. 

There are three schemes to help employers pay wages 

  1. COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme Extension – an 8-week payment to help employers and self-employed people pay wages if their revenue has fallen. 
  2. COVID-19 Resurgence Wage Subsidy – a 2-week payment to help employers and self-employed people who are affected by the resurgence of COVID-19 and changes to COVID Alert Levels, if their revenue has fallen. 
  3. COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme – to help employers pay staff who cant go to work because Ministry of Health guidelines recommend they stay at home and they cant work from home. 

We describe the schemes and what they mean for you. 

Your employer can apply for the schemes to pay your wages. 

You cannot apply yourself. 

Employers can’t receive more than one COVID-19 payment from Work and Income for the same employee at the same time. This includes the: 

  • the original Wage Subsidy Scheme 
  • Wage Subsidy Scheme Extension 
  • Resurgence Wage Subsidy 
  • Leave Support Scheme 

COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme Extension 

A Wage Subsidy Extension payment is available for after the Wage Subsidy ends. 

You might still be getting the Wage Subsidy. Once it finishes, your employer can apply for the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Extension if their reduction in revenue makes it difficult for them to pay wages. 

To get this payment for you, your employer will need to meet particular criteria, including having loss of revenue of at least 40% compared to last year. The revenue loss must be over a 30-day period in the 40 days before your employer applies. 

Your employer can’t apply for the Wage Subsidy Extension until your 12-week Wage Subsidy has finished. 

The Wage Subsidy Extension will cover 8 weeks of wages from the date of the application. 

Applications for the Wage Subsidy Extension close on 1 September 2020. 

Resurgence Wage Subsidy 

The Resurgence Wage Subsidy is a 2-week payment for businesses and self-employed people who:  

  • are affected by the resurgence of COVID-19 and changes to COVID Alert Levels, and 
  • aren’t getting the Wage Subsidy, Wage Subsidy Extension or Leave Support Scheme. 

The subsidy is so businesses can keep paying their employees if they’ve had a drop in revenue, or expect to have a drop in revenue, of 40% or more for a 14-day period between 12 August and 10 September, compared to a similar period last year. 

Employers and self-employed people throughout New Zealand can apply. 

Your employer can apply from 1pm on 21 August 2020 to 11:59pm on 3 September 2020. 

What your employer needs to do  

This section describes what your employer needs to do if they’re applying for a Wage Subsidy Extension or Resurgence Wage Subsidy for you. 

Your employer must pay you your agreed rate of pay for any hours you work if you are working from home or at your workplaceFor the hours you work, you must be paid at least the minimum wage.  

You and your employer need to agree to any changes to hours of work, rate of pay, or leave during the current COVID-19 situation. Record this in writing. If you take any annual leave, then this must be paid according to your employment agreement and the Holidays Act.  

If you are covered by a Wage Subsidy, Wage Subsidy Extension or Resurgence Wage Subsidy payment, your employer must try and pay you at least 80% of your usual wages. 

If that isnt possible, they need to pay you at least the subsidy amount at either the full-time or part-time rates. If your usual wages are less than the subsidy, you should be paid your usual wages.  

The amount actually paid to you may be less, for example, because of tax and Kiwisaver and your employment circumstances. 

Your employer must keep you on as an employee for at least the time you’re getting the subsidy if youre named in their wage subsidy application. 

COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme 

Support is available for employers so they can pay people who cant go into work and cant work from home because Ministry of Health guidelines recommend they stay at home 

This payment used to be called COVID-19 Essential Workers Leave Support because it was only available to essential businesses. Its now called COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme because its available for all employers who meet the criteria. 

Criteria for getting the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme 

If your employer meets the criteria to get the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme, your employer may talk with you to find out if you are in one of the following four groups. 

  • You have tested positive for COVID-19 and are required to remain off work until you’ve been cleared by a health professional to be released from self-isolation, or
  • You have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19 and must self-isolate for 14 days (as required by Ministry of Health guidelines) 
  • You are at higher risk if you get COVID-19, and Ministry of Health guidelines recommend you stay at home while public health restrictions are in place 
  • You have household members who are at higher risk if they get COVID-19 and the Ministry of Health recommends you also remain at home to reduce the risk to them. 

You should work with your employer to identify any risks and ways to manage them. There may be alternatives to taking leave, which may sufficiently reduce the risk to you or to someone in your household who is at higher risk (such as working with minimal contact with others).  

Your employer needs to make sure they are complying with their duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act. 

Your employer needs to get your consent to sharing your information with the Ministry of Social Development and other government organisations if needed. 

Your employer will also advise you that you have the right to request access to all information held about you by the Ministry of Social Development or other government organisations under the Privacy Act 1993. You can also request to correct that information. 

Change to criteria for COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme 

If your employer applied for the Leave Support Scheme before 1pm on 21 August 2020, they had to meet a revenue or negatively impacted test. The revenue and negatively impacted tests no longer apply. 

More information 


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